Fantasy, GENRES, Karen Vaughan

LET’S TALK FANTASY NOVELS!!!!

Image result for DRAGONSACCORDING TO WIKIPEDIA! 

Fantasy literature is literature set in an imaginary universe, often but not always without any locations, events, or people from the real world. Magic, the supernatural and magical creatures are common in many of these imaginary worlds.

Fantasy is a sub genre of speculative fiction and is distinguished from the genres of science fiction and horror by the absence of scientific or macabre themes, respectively, though these genres overlap. Historically, most works of fantasy were written, however, since the 1960s, a growing segment of the fantasy genre has taken the form of films, television programs, graphic novels, video games, music and art.

FAMOUS FANTASY BOOKS (SERIES):

LORD OF THE RINGS       J.R.R.TOLKIEN

HARRY POTTER         J.K. ROWLING.

DRAGON RIDERS OF PERN            ANNE MCCAFFERY

THE BELGARIAD SERIES            DAVID EDDINGS

A WRINKLE OF TIME   MADELAINE L’ENGEL

SECRET WORLD OF OG   PIERRE BURTON 

CHRONICLES OF NARNIA    C S LEWIS

 

IF YOU WANT A LITTLE ROMANCE AND STEAM IN YOUR FANTASY NOVELS I WOULD RECOMMEND   BOOKS BY JULIA MILLS, DARLENE KUNCYTES AND ANDI LAWRENCOVNA!  JULIA MILLS STORIES REVOLVE AROUND DRAGON SHIFTERS.  IF YOU LIKE VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES AND FEY  A BOOK BY DARLENE KUNCYTES IS WHAT YOU WANT.  ANDI SPECIALIZES IN PUTTING A NEW SPIN ON A FAVORITE FAIRY TALE.

 

The Dragon's Sacrifice: A Breath of Fyre Novel (The Never Lands Saga) by [Lawrencovna, Andi]     Imagine Dragon (Dragon Guard Book 32) by [Mills, Julia]

JULIAS AMAZON PAGE

https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Mills/e/B00GRJ1F7U/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

DARLENES AMAZON PAGE

https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Kuncytes/e/B00BIO0EJY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1478713800&sr=8-1

ANDI’S AMAZON PAGE

https://www.amazon.com/Andi-Lawrencovna/e/B0100KXLQY/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1524337290&sr=1-2-ent

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author, books, Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Ruth Davis Hays, Uncategorized

The Dawnstone Tale – excerpt

by R.L.Davis Hays

Chapter 1 continues:

Ruth Davis Hays Book Cover Collage 1

“Have I ever failed to pay you?” Keinigan protested. The knife held at his throat was making it difficult to talk with bravado.

The thieves of The Slider Guild were sincere in their threat of cutting him if he did not produce the money, but they were not merciless to those that kept their word, and Keinigan had always made sure they were on the top of his debt list. To not pay them after they had given him their aid was worthy of a knife in the back.

He made it to the safehouse without pursuit. Yet, the gate to sanctuary was a perilous one. The thieves did not care for people to burst in unannounced and fresh out of a jailbreak.

Novak, a burly human with one eye and a long, ugly scar down his neck, held Keinigan pinned beside the door with one arm. The other arm gripped the jagged knife, warm from being next to the small of his back, against Keinigan’s golden skin.

“But, you don’t have the silver on you. Do you, Keen?”

The query came from a thin, dark-skinned woman lounging calmly at a table in the far corner of the tavern. She could have been considered pretty if it were not for the hard, cruel expression that always sat on her face. It was clear from the respect that all others in the room gave her that she was their leader. She had not even moved since Keinigan arrived in a flush of excitement; nevertheless, he knew the only real threat came from her. She could order his life taken with the bat of one black eyelash.

“Do you, Keen?” she repeated, skeptical. Using Keinigan’s guild name was a show of authority and the ominous tone caused the blade of Novak’s knife to sink in a little closer. The guild was determined to extract a payment or, at least, secure the promise of one.

Keinigan made a depreciating gesture. “No, it’s true I have nothing on me, Gala.” He called her by her guild name as well to try evening the odds. “But, I’ll double the price if you cover me for tonight. I swear.”

There was silence from the corner. Then her face broke into a crooked smile. “You are such a filthy liar,” Gala cackled as she waved Novak away.

The knife withdrew and the tension in the room eased. Keinigan rubbed his throat and glared at the lumbering human. They were deemed equals now and he was allowed to be indignant. Moving over to Gala, the fae slid down into a chair opposite to make his offer.

“Look, you know I’m good for at least the price of two days’ hiding. I can get more if you want it.” He smoothed his tunic and settled into his most charming attitude. “Come now, Gala. What’s better for you? Twenty silver pents now or an extra ten added to that later? You wouldn’t even have to let the Silvermen know about it.”

Her brow creased in mock anger. “Wait. Ten extra? You said you’d double the twenty. Swindler.”

He spread his hands over the tabletop. “Like I could really get my hands on forty silver pents.”

Gala shook her head, her mouth turned up on end with a smirk. “I know you too well, Keinigan.”

“Thirty, then?”

“I know you; it’ll take you forever to scrape it up. Just give us the regular twenty and I’ll forget what I heard about cheating the Slider’s guildmaster.”

Keinigan lowered his head with a smile. He knew it was a gentle reprimand coming from her. However, a little bribe is never out of place.

“How about if I give you something that the guild won’t mind missing out on…”

Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Like what?”

His hand stole across the table to gently pick hers up and play with the fingers. He raised his slanted, green eyes up to her with a lustful promise simmering in them.

“Oh,” he purred. “I’m sure the Silvermen won’t mind a little reminiscing between two old friends.” He leaned in closer as he saw her opening to the suggestion. “Two good friends. We could go down to the hide-room and –”

His offer got cut short by a movement near the window. One of the thieves stood up and peeked out the glass.

“Torches approaching,” was all they heard.

The room cleared.

 

******************************************

Translations from Jorthus series available from Amazon.com. Visit the author page for more information on the books, or join the conversation on The Worlds of Jorthus page on Facebook.  http://rldavishays.webs.com/apps/blog/

author, books, Cereal Authors, Fantasy, Fiction, Musings, paranormal, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Teens, Uncategorized

Watchdogs Part 3

by R L Davis Hays 2017

WIP copy

“Tori, honey? Could you come in here when you get a sec?”

My mom’s voice sounded strained and I had just walked in the door. What could it be so soon? The bittersweet smoke lingering in the air screamed to me of the presence of Derek, her cigarette-toting man-thing.  By God, he had the worst taste in smokes.

I used to love the smell of my grandfather’s pipe, stuffed with the butt-ends of his cheap cigars, a sweet hickory scent that infused my grandparent’s log cabin with the trappings of comfort and acceptance.  Not the same as Derek’s at all.

Clutching my backpack, I hurried to my room, briefly catching the sight of dark hair on curled toes peeking out of two Birkenstocks that had seen better days.  Through the door to our living room, I could see his pajama clad legs as he sat in the same spot he had claimed the first day mom brought him home.  What little sunlight that floated through the window draperies caught in the cloud of clove smoke and was prevented from intruding further.

“Did you hear your mother, Victoria?”

I dropped my backpack to the floor, my hand on the handle to my bedroom.  So close.  I almost went five seconds without Derek parenting me.

“Yes, Derek.  I heard her.  Can’t I just put my stuff up first?”

“You don’t have to backtalk.”

My eyes rolled out of sheer habit.  Tossing my pack to my bed, I moved into the kitchen to see my mother, her walker against the counter, trying her best to reach up into a top cupboard.  A stack of groceries covered the counter-top, the bags littering the floor, and the back door was standing open.

“Why doesn’t Derek help you with the groceries?” I asked for the millionth time as I lowered her off her tiptoes and placed the soup cans onto the shelf with ease.  Perhaps I was born for the simple task of reaching high areas for my tiny, middle-aged mater.   Seems as likely as any reason.

“He doesn’t come over to do chores, Tori.  He works hard. Let him relax,” she mewed.

I sighed.  It was the same line she used for my absent father who watched her body disintegrate until he had had enough of “taking care of a mooch” and decided to leave her.

“He could at least shut the door if your arms are full, couldn’t he? That wouldn’t take any of his precious energy.” I mumbled so she could not hear too much as I closed the wooden door.

“I’m perfectly capable of–”

“No, you’re not, Mom.” I heaved a sigh and grabbed the plastic handles of a floor-dwelling bag. “You have a freaking walker to deal with. You shouldn’t have to carry groceries from the car by yourself.”

“No, she shouldn’t.” Derek magically appeared at the arch to the dining room. It was like the click of the back door summoned him.  His gravel choked voice continued to scold me as if I had been the one squatting in the other room listening to her struggles this whole time. “You should be more helpful for your mother.”

After the day I had just been dealt, something in me snapped. “You’re right, Derek. I should’ve known my mom was at the store and should’ve dashed home like The Flash to help her with the bags! Utterly brilliant!”

“Tori.” My mom admonished me with her tone. “Just put the things away for me, please? I need to lie down. Can you do that without yelling at anybody? Please?”

I wilted. “Sure, Mom.”

She shuffled to the arch where Derek ushered her to the hall with a waiting arm. He was such a freaking hero. I resumed sorting the items from the bags, muttering to myself. “I wasn’t yelling at just anybody. It was still a pretty stupid thing to say. How am I supposed to help when I’m not even home, Derek? Tell me that. Like you tell me everything else; you’re so smart and so wonderful. Why can’t you tell me that? Huh?”

Meaningless, pointless venting.  Eventually my grumble petered off to silence and I was absorbed in organizing the shelves, the frig, and the small pantry closet near the back door.

An hour later, I realized Derek’s true genius. I had cleaned the kitchen without being asked.  Pure evil, that’s what he was.

books, Cereal Authors, Character Quotes, Fantasy, Fiction, Ruth Davis Hays, Uncategorized

Character Quotes from THE EXCURSION by R L Davis Hays

But, here they were. Lylith, Lady Pinne, Rachel and her new admirer, Hamlin, as well as the knight Trevalin and even Master Calbraum… all willing to help him merely because he had told the truth instead of trying to steal what he needed. He was amazed.

gala n kein CA“These people don’t really exist, do they?” he muttered aloud as he felt the warm form of Gala slip into a spot beside him. She was his back up. Since the Journeymen had hired her, she was his best bet on finding them. Though, to be honest, neither of them knew exactly where to go. This whole force of magda and arms were only going to be applicable if the journeyman took the bait.

“Do people really do this much to help each other?” he marveled, but Gala brought in the touch of reality that he needed.

“No. They want to arrest the Journeyman and you are their best way of finding him. Otherwise, we’d be on our own, Keen,” she stated flatly.

“Thanks, Gala.” He snorted. “You always know how to make me feel special.”

With that, she got back up and left him to sulk.

books, Cereal Authors, Character Quotes, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Ruth Davis Hays, Uncategorized

Character Quotes from THE EXCURSION by R L Davis Hays

Kein n Rach CA

As soon as he was done, she pointed languidly at his cheek and asked, “Those scars on your face. Where’d you get them?”

“Why?” he asked, noticing a different tone in her voice.

“They’re sexy looking,” she added playfully.

He sobered a bit, raised one sharp eyebrow, and said with a clever cock of the head, “A massive reaverbear slashed me with its two long claws right before I chopped its head off.”

“Really?” Her eyes were wide.

He couldn’t conceal his smile, confessing the lie in his eyes.

“Com’on! Really?” Rachel pushed his shoulder, a bit harder than she had intended.

They both laughed.

“No,” he admitted.

“Seriously then, where’d you get ‘em?”

“I can’t tell you.” He resisted, then added with a wicked grin. “Then I’d have to kill you.”

Rachel shoved him with a fumbling slap on his chest. “Hot! Got any others?”

“Nope,” he laughed, suddenly sorry that his fae flesh healed so well. “Sorry, those are the only ones.”

“Well, you showed me yours, I guess it’s only fair that I show you mine.” Even she could detect the slurring now from the ale, and she giggled again. Struggling with her tunic shirt tucked into a wide leather belt, Rachel pulled it until a short, thickly seamed scar on her abdomen could be seen just below her ribs.

Keinigan’s eyes were drawn to her soft light flesh there, and his mind uttered a grateful prayer to the gods. He glanced around to see if any other patrons might see this little display as he uttered, “Well, mine are on my face, that’s hardly fair.” Followed quickly by a breathy query, “Got any others?”

Leaning towards him, she caught his mouth in a playful kiss. “Shut up.” She smiled, now feeling much warmer and eager to share his tenderness. “Yes.”

“What kind of scars?” He looked her up and down as he smirked.

“Surgical,” she said. They were very close together now, his lips brushing hers temptingly.

“Really?” he whispered. “Where?”

She grinned, her eyes shining with the flirtatious glee. “They’re down there,” she said pointing to her hips as she watched his eyes flame. “One for an appendix and the other for a hernia.”

“And, how do they look?” He waited with bated breath for her answer.

“If we go someplace private, I might can show you.”

She snuggled in for another passionate kiss. As it ended, he practically overturned the table as he leapt to his feet.

“Oh! Alright, let’s go!” he chimed.

Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, paranormal, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Uncategorized, YA

A Work in Progress — Watchdogs

Part 2

High school locker rooms.  Every kid’s favorite place.  The arena to expose our physical flaws to our worst critics like exposing our jugular to a vampire.

I may not be the tallest girl in my class, but I’m gangling enough to pass as a teenage boy if I wanted.  All shoulders and elbows.  Stupid pseudo-ectomorph body type.  My breasts popped out in seventh grade, but quickly gave up the fight against gravity.  Now they are just two medium ski slopes dangling above a small paunch of “baby fat” that refuses to go away no matter how many sit-ups my coaches tell me to do.  I don’t want a six-pack; I just want to be able to button my jeans without lying flat on my bed.

If having attention being called to my body’s disproportions during (not one, but two) gym classes each weekday and giggled about by my peers was not enough, I was sure to be reminded of my “budding womanhood” by my mom’s creepy-ass boyfriend when I get home.

Geez, why can’t we just be prepubescent one night and burst forth from a chrysalis two days later as a legal adult?  Why must we suffer for eight to ten years like this?

I hate high school.  So what? I’m sure everybody does.  I’m not a whiner.  It’s just that transitioning to a new school mid-semester because my old school burned to the ground puts me in unfamiliar territory.  I’ve known some of these kids most of my life, we just went to different schools for a lot of that time.  Now I’m in their world, uncertain and vulnerable.  It takes every aspect of myself that I was comfortable with and sticks it under a new microscope to be poked and prodded by narrowed eyes that are less than impartial.

Gym is the worst and the best.  The coaches push me to join after school athletics and I usually get picked right away for team sports. This is because of the way I look, not because of any proven skills.  I’ve had to adapt over the years, so as to appear that I know what I’m doing.  Example:  I can hit a ball hard enough; I just don’t always know how to make it go in the right direction.

I would much prefer to be in an art class or computer lab.  Thus, I suffer through my typical day.

Also, I’m the type of person to use the word ‘thus’.  Enough said.

author, Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Life, paranormal, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Sci-Fi, Uncategorized, YA

So New, It Doesn’t Even Have a Title

A work in progress:

The juice box was definitely against me. Its resistance was punctuated by a taunting titter.  My efforts to open it were futile, it mocked.

 

WIP copyNo, wait. The snickering was not the juice box. It came from down the lunch table.  I didn’t even have to look their way. I knew who was laughing, and I didn’t want to see if it was me they were laughing at.  In my heart, I knew it was.

 

I continued to stab at the little cellophane covered hole with the sadly beveled end of the hard plastic straw like Van Helsing at the climax of a bad B movie. The final strike bent my straw, but rewarded me with a squirt of lukewarm apple juice in the face. An arterial explosion worthy of the best special effects artist in the business.

 

The laughter from the perfectly coifed girls at the other end of the table could not be ignored this time.  My life was not a bad horror movie; it was a comedy and I was the hapless victim of a situational schtick.

 

Staring down at the lunch tray, I watched the juice drown my stale, rectangular pizza slice.  At least, I wasn’t hungry anymore anyway.  My appetite was ruined by the whispered jokes about me destroying the little paper box with my brute strength.

 

I closed my eyes and swore that if I heard one more comment from those four makeup-slathered, social media celeb wannabes about me being a “she-male”, I’d flip this table on their heads.

 

Not that I hold any direct animosity for She-males, or what have you, but I do resent lies being spread about me.  And, I resent those who start the lies.  Namely, Brittany.  My mom says I spend way too much time worrying about Brittany, her crew, and what they think or say about me.

 

Mom says it doesn’t matter what others think, only what I know about myself.  Yeah, she’s full of inspirational poster stuff like that.

 

Sorry, Mom.  But, it’s hard not to see myself reflected in the eyes and jeers of my fellow students.  My peers.  What a joke.  I have so very little in common with them that I hesitate to call them peers of any sort.  Alas, for the next year or so, I must.

 

Of course, using the word ‘alas’ in casual conversation is one of the things these girls would tease me about.  Can I help it if my grandfather read Shakespeare to me for the last fifteen years of his life?

 

The siren-like bell blared from the hall to announce the next class would begin in five.  I gathered my sloshing tray and stood, never glancing at Brittany once.  Fifth period was next.  Gym class, right after lunch.  Brilliant scheduling.

 

When was this nightmare going to end?

*****************************************************************************

I woke up the other day recounting my dream several times as I did to try and remember it. The sights, the feelings, the familiar trappings of high school. I often dream that I’m back in school, but never had I wanted to write them into a story. This one was fun.  Well, to me, running for my life and fighting creatures while possessing an unnatural strength in a dream is fun.  Others may call it a nightmare.  Either way, it spawned this new character. This is a little beginning snippet from what I will call my first Urban Paranormal Young Adult story.

It is such an infant at the moment that it has no name.  Heck, I just came up with the protagonist’s name this morning.  I hope you enjoy!

Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Literary, Ramblings, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Uncategorized, YA

Realms of Light — a fanfic continues

Again, a disclaimer:  I do not own, nor did I create, these characters. I wrote this as homage to my favorite writers, J. R. R. Tolkien as well as Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. — Ruth Davis Hays

 

After an exhausting and confusing time of “follow the leader”, the two found the front door and had gone inside.  The house seemed to unfold, with each room larger than the last and offering more doors that led to more and more rooms.  Each one stranger and filled with more interesting little things than the one before it.  Indeed, it could take an eternity to wander and explore the whole place.

In one tall library that had a fireplace larger than they were high and a long polished wood table, they had come across the kender, Gintilli Dibbertill.  She was a slender and muscular girl with a long, blonde topknot tied in the same fashion as Tasslehoff’s.  She looked much like Tas, only feminine in all the right ways.  Her manner was very similar to Tas’s as well.  She talked excitedly, moved around almost constantly and was intensely interested in anything new.  Frodo guessed that this was just the way kender acted and made the best of it.

Tasslehoff had scolded her for changing the entrance to the tree house while he had been away, though he had complemented her on the “merry chase” she had led them on while trying to find the way in.

“I thought you might like it,” She had simply said.  She was evidently undaunted by his first reaction.

Frodo explored part of their house with them.  The fascination that they showed in many of the twists and turns made him wonder if it was the first time that they had seen some parts as well.  Then he remembered how kender like to find new things and realized that they must change the house constantly so that it can always be new to them.   At times, they bickered like siblings and at other times they seemed to titter and giggle like ‘tweens in love.   He was curious as to what their relationship actually was, but thought it improper to ask.

At length, they all settled in the tall library again to eat.  That was when Gintilli introduced her half-sister, Glorianthea.  They had overlooked her the first time through the room as she had been sitting in a far corner silently.  Now, she was sitting at the long table, silently.

She was very different from the other two kender.  Though she had the same size and features, she was thinner and paler than Gintilli.  Her dark brown hair was braided in a single long braid down her back and her slanted, chestnut eyes stared vacantly before her.  She also did not seem to move, nor register that they were present in any way.  She just stared.

Tasslehoff called her unnerving.  Gintilli called her annoying.  But, Frodo simply found himself staring at her curiously, almost as if he was waiting for her to move or look up at him.

Dinner was a bit odd, as Tasslehoff and Gintilli seemed quite used to ignoring Glorianthea, but Frodo felt it rude leaving her out of the conversation or not acknowledging her presence in the least.   After he had offered her something to eat for the third time, Gintilli finally said not to bother.

“She won’t take it even if she can hear you.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  She will eat but, only when no one else is around.  She must feed herself because I leave food with her and when I come back, it’s gone.  I just never have the patience to sit around long enough to see her eat it.  It gets too boring,” She said in her soft, high, almost sing-song voice.

“Why is she like this?” Frodo asked.  He looked at her wide, almost sad eyes.  Her face was smoother than Gintilli’s with the small pointed ears making her look as if she were a tiny, petite elf maid. He felt his pulse race and remembered a similar feeling long ago in the presence of another elf maiden.

“She’s been like that as long as I can remember,” Gintilli began.  “I think she saw a dragon once and this is what happened.  I don’t know why, though.  I’ve seen a dragon or two myself and I was never scared stupid.”

“Dragons do tend to make one’s stomach feel funny,” chimed in Tas,  “But, I’ve been around a ton of them.  I got used to the feeling.  Maybe it tried to eat her.  That might make her not want to go outside.  But, we keep telling her that there are no dragons here.  At least none that I’ve seen yet.”

“Perhaps there is more to it,”  pondered Frodo.

They talked late into the evening around the fire in the huge hearth, but Frodo’s eyes kept straying back to Glorianthea’s still form in the tall chair at the end of the table.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Ramblings, Ruth Davis Hays, Uncategorized, YA

Realms of Light — A fanfic continued

Again, a disclaimer:  I do not own, nor did I create, these characters. I wrote this as homage to my favorite writers, J. R. R. Tolkien as well as Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. — Ruth Davis Hays

 

Chapter 2

 

Days came and went more merrily for Frodo.  He had met with Tasslehoff every day since the kender had left his hobbit hole.  Together they talked of adventures and times long passed.  They shared favorite paths and favorite habits such as pipeweed and ale.  Frodo introduced Tasslehoff to all his old friends, some the kender had met on his own and some he had simply seen from afar.  Sam joined them occasionally for a long walk and a good talk, though to be honest with himself Sam found the kender rather tiring and he would often make the excuse that Rosie would miss him if he stayed too long.   He was amazed by Frodo’s ability to listen to the kender’s almost continuous chatter.

“He’s a stronger soul than I.” He would say as he would make his way back home to his wife.

In his time with Frodo and Tasslehoff, Sam wondered at the fact that Frodo never mentioned to his new friend about his own great adventure and the important part that Frodo had played in the saving of his own world.  The Ring had been mentioned, but Frodo skimmed over it and talked of others’ adventures and dealings.  The missing finger was never mentioned at all.  Sam tried to tell Tasslehoff once or twice about Mr. Frodo’s amazing journey, knowing that it would rival the kender’s many tales of heroism, but Frodo would quickly switch the topic to either Sam’s bravery or someone else’s part.  This worried Sam.  He felt that Frodo was doing himself a discredit by not telling of how he had destroyed the Ring and saved Middle-earth.

“To be honest, it was Gollum that actually got the ring into the fire, Sam.” Frodo would remind him each time Sam brought the subject up between them afterwards.  Then he would give Sam that knowing look as if to say, “You know this, you were there too.”

Reluctantly, Sam would drop the subject.

 

One afternoon, Tasslehoff popped his head into Frodo’s front window and invited the hobbit to come to meet his cousins.  Frodo, who had been on the verge of dark thoughts, readily agreed.

As they walked under an overcast sky, Tas explained, “I don’t really know if they’re my cousins or not.  We kender rarely keep track of such things as family trees or distant relations.  But, Uncle Trapspringer is Gintilli’s uncle too, so we must be related somehow.”

Frodo simply smiled.  He was growing quite fond of the strange habits and quirks that kenders seemed to have.  They were refreshingly different from his fellow hobbits.  Normally he would have questioned the kender further, but today he was a little distracted.

Earlier that morning, Frodo had accidentally slammed his right hand in the wardrobe door.  The pain had been sudden and over with quickly, but it had succeeded in bringing his attention to his missing digit again.  For a few minutes after it had happened, Frodo felt the ache in the four fingers on his hand, but at the instant that it had occurred he could have sworn that the absent finger had been in pain as well.  He had pondered this for hours.  He had been trying experiments with his fingers to find out if he could really feel anything from that maimed spot or if it had been his imagination.  He had concluded that it was his imagination and this had put him into a sullen mood.

Tasslehoff’s invitation could not have come at a better time.

Though the weather was gloomy looking, it was cooling to the skin and held a certain crispness to the air that reminded Frodo of autumn days in the Shire.  He breathed deeply and emptied his mind of frustrating thoughts.  Half listening to Tas’s chatter, he watched the landscape around them change.

They approached a small, cottage with a thatched roof and a tall, heavy limbed tree towering over it.  Frodo stopped and gaped at the size and sheer beauty of the tree.  Tas stopped as well and noticing the hobbit’s reaction looked rather pleased with himself.

“It’s a Vallenwood tree.” Tas said proudly.  “I made it myself.  It’s a little bigger than the ones back home, but I thought, ‘if I’m going to think up a Vallenwood tree, why not think up the biggest one I can?’ so, Tah-Dah!”

“It’s beautiful.  Do you live in that cottage?”

“That!?” Tas shook his head.  “No, what fun would that be?  That’s where Flint stays.  I stay up there.”  The kender pointed to the branches of the towering tree.  Nestled among the leaves was a sprawling tree house with wandering catwalks zigzagging through the branches.

Frodo gasped in astonishment.

“I always wanted to live in a house like the ones in Solace.” Tas chirped merrily. “I told Gintilli about them once and she thought ‘Why not make one?’  So, we did.  Don’t worry, it’s bigger on the inside than it looks.”

With that, Tasslehoff bounded towards a ladder made of wood and rope.  He stopped only to make sure that Frodo was following him and then scurried to the lowest walkway and waited.

****